Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wells v. Steele

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 8, 2015

GEORGE WELLS, Petitioner,
v.
TROY STEELE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CATHERINE D. PERRY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. For the reasons that follow I will deny the petition.

Procedural History

Petitioner George Wells is presently incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point, Missouri, pursuant to a judgment and sentence of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri. On March 18, 2005, following a jury trial, petitioner was found guilty of murder in the second degree, two counts of armed criminal action, and attempted robbery in the first degree. As a result of these convictions, petitioner was sentenced to two concurrent life terms for the conviction of murder in the second degree and armed criminal action, as well as concurrent terms of fifteen and twenty years imprisonment for the convictions of attempted robbery in the first degree and armed criminal action.

Petitioner raised one point on direct appeal of his convictions. See Resp't Ex. F. He argued that the trial court erred and abused its discretion and prejudiced Petitioner by allowing witness testimony that contained inadmissible hearsay. On May 23, 2006, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed petitioner's convictions in an unpublished memorandum opinion. State v. Wells, 192 S.W.3d 505(Mo.App. 2006); See Resp't Ex. H; Memorandum Supplementing Order Affirming Judgment Pursuant to Rule 30.25(g), No. ED86060 (Mo.Ct.App. May 23, 2006)(unreported).

Petitioner prematurely filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15. Appointed counsel later filed an amended motion for post-conviction relief. In his amended motion for post-conviction relief, Petitioner alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to call additional alibi witnesses; (2) failing to object to evidence of other crimes committed by Petitioner; (3) failing to object to the prosecution's cross-examination of Shaun Black; and (4) failing to call multiple other witnesses. See Resp't Ex. J. On December 30, 2010, the motion court entered judgment denying Petitioner's post-conviction motion. See Resp't Ex J. On February 12, 2012, The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed the decision of the motion court. See Resp't Ex. M; Memorandum Supplementing Order Affirming Judgment pursuant to Rule 84.16(b), No. ED96296 (Mo.Ct.App. Feb 21, 2012) (unreported).

Wells now seeks federal habeas corpus relief, pursuant to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed on December 10, 2012. In his petition, Petitioner asserts the following grounds:

(1) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to subpoena and call two alibi witnesses, Mark Jackson and Dominique Nettles.
(2) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to provide a redacted copy of a witness's written statement to ensure the statement excluded evidence of Wells' previous incarceration.
(3) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to improper cross-examination by the state.
(4) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to subpoena witnesses Richard Allen, Leroy Hulsey, Antoine Hayes, Travis Wallace, Brad Hale and Tyrone Boyd.
(5) Trial court committed error by improperly admitting hearsay testimony into evidence.

Facts

Well's conviction arose from the death of Rodney Marshall, who died from gunshot injuries sustained during a failed robbery attempt. On the evening of December 11, 2003, Marshall was in the parking lot of his apartment complex, accompanied by his girlfriend, Marquitta Harris, and their daughter.[1] As they were unloading their belongings from a parked car, Harris saw the Petitioner walking toward the car as she lifted her daughter from the back seat. The couples' daughter ran across the parking lot and almost collided with Petitioner. Harris ran after her daughter, picked her up and looked closely at Petitioner prior to walking back to her car.

The Petitioner continued across the parking lot, and approached the car. He confronted Marshall and pointed a gun at his chest, and told him not to move. Marshall told Harris to run. After Harris grabbed her daughter and fled from the scene, the Petitioner shot Marshall in the chest and the back. Marshall died from the gunshot wounds. The Missouri Court of Appeals described the evidence presented at trial:

On December 23, 2003, Harris identified Defendant in a photo line-up. Harris testified at trial that she was certain that Defendant was the man she saw in the parking lot on December 11, 2003.

Memorandum Supplementing Order Affirming Judgment Pursuant to Rule 30.25(g), No. ED86060 (Mo.Ct.App. May 23, 2006)(unreported). The record also reflects that Harris participated in a live-line up and identified Petitioner from this subsequent live line-up. Resp't Ex. H.

The Petitioner's trial commenced on January 11, 2005 and continued for two days. The jury returned verdicts on January 13, 2005, finding the Petitioner guilty on all four counts. The court sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment for second-degree murder, life imprisonment for armed criminal action associated with second-degree murder, fifteen years' imprisonment for attempted first-degree robbery and twenty years' imprisonment for armed criminal action associated with attempted first-degree robbery. Wells is currently serving these sentences.

Standard of Review

A federal court has the power to grant a writ of habeas corpus as governed by 28 U.S.C. §2254(d). When a federal court reviews claims that a state court has adjudicated on the merits, the federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the state court's adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in the light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).

The Supreme Court has stated that "a state-court decision is contrary to this Court's clearly established precedents if it applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in our cases, or if it confronts a set of facts that is materially indistinguishable from a decision of this Court but reaches a different result." Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 141 (2005). The Supreme Court has further construed §2254(d)(1)'s unreasonable application' clause to mean that "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.